We get this question EVERY DAY. This is an important one, and a long answer so bear with me for a few minutes. We have to get a little scientific on this one. Don't be scared. There isn't a test at the end.
Let's begin at the beginning. Plants are extracted using one of the common methods(Kosher food grade alcohol which is evaporated off later, CO2 or hydrocarbons). From that extraction we are left with a substance resembling molasses which will contain all the goodies from the plant, in a super concentrated form. From there the extract will be winterized(filtered at subzero temps to remove non valuable plant materials) and then decarboxylated...... yeah, I know. Fun word. In simplest terms this means that the extract has been heated and a chemical reaction has taken place in order to make the extract ready for proper absorption and use. This is a gross oversimplification, but we are catering to the masses, not trying to impress Bill Nye with our knowledge.
Now we have a Cleaned and ready extract that's ready to go to work for us. This is a FULL SPECTRUM extract. It has virtually all the valuable cannabinoids that it started with, but it has been lightly filtered to remove non medically significant components.
From here we can further refine to produce a broad spectrum extract, or refine even further to create an isolate. The full spectrum from above is steam distilled to isolate and remove the active ingredients one by one, due to their different boil off temperatures. The goal here is to remove all the THC(The fun stuff that you never experimented with in the sixties and seventies) and then add all the other stuff back into the mix, sans the THC in order to produce a broad spectrum, THC free product.
Isolates are just like the name suggests. The isolation of one particular compound without any of the other 120+ cannabinoids that are naturally found in cannabis/hemp. These are my least favorite, and should be avoided at all costs in my humble opinion. With the advent of broad spectrum I feel that isolates should be a thing of the past. I can count the amount of isolate based products in my store on one finger. I bet you can guess which finger i count them on as well. The only way that I have found isolates to be effective is through smoking pure 99.9% isolate powder in concentrate form. Again, smoking is also the least therapeutic of all methods so take this with a grain of salt.
Are we confused yet? The biggest thing to remember is that the more we strip this stuff down the less good things it will contain. The more natural we leave it, the better it works through the entourage effect.
FULL SPECTRUM - BEST
BROAD SPECTRUM- BETTER
ISOLATE- LEAST THERAPEUTIC